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What’s on Your Bucket List: One Day at a Time to a Future in Hawai’i

Apparently the term “bucket list” was popularized by the screenwriters for the 2007 film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman (which you can stream while you shelter in place), but may have first been used a few years earlier in an obscure novel by author Patrick M. Carlisle.

Skydiving over North Kohala

Is skydiving on your bucket list? Iʻm glad Denni Keyes survived so my retirement succession plan is still intact.

For second home, investment, and future-retirement buyers, having a home in Hawaiʻi often starts as a “bucket list” idea – something my clients may have been thinking about for a long time, sure it was something to do before they “kick the bucket,” even if the time they would be here looking in earnest was years away. If you want to snatch the “longest relationship” crown from the heads of my dear clients who I worked with for seven years before they made their purchase last year, let me warn you I am likely to retire before that occurs.

But I have a succession plan in place, so letʻs begin today with what it will take to cross “home in Hawaiʻi” off your bucket list.

And for those of my readers who already have their home here, even more for any born and raised in Hawaiʻi nei, the “bucket list” question is what future do we want to see if this inflection point allows for us to change the status quo to the future we want for Hawaiʻi? Feel free to skip down to the last heading

Narrowing Down – The Funnel Questions to Your Hawaii Home

I started my real estate career in Hawaiʻi working for the developer of the Kolea and Haliʻi Kai projects in Waikoloa Beach Resort. As an on-site salesperson, you spend much of your time talking to people who are visiting the resort and see your advertising or the sign in front of the project. Surprisingly, many of these prospects were on their first trip to the Big Island. So we were taught to “take it from the top.”

Sunset along the Kohala Coast

The sun setting into the ocean is one of the most frequently mentioned criteria I hear from my resort and second home buyers.

Why Hawaiʻi? Maybe it would be better for your lifestyle to have a second home closer to your primary home or your grandkids. Maybe a less expensive “warm tropical climate” would suit your retirement needs better. But maybe there is something calling you to Hawaiʻi. Maybe thatʻs why our Hawaiʻii Life TV show has such a huge, literally international, following.

Which Island? I would be giving reasons for “Why the Big Island,” but the Big Island is not the right choice for everyone. If you want a lush green tropical paradise, you might be drawn to Kauai. If you love to shop and go to concerts, maybe Oʻahu is a better fit. Or maybe amazing white sand beaches and windsurfing are your passions. Try Maui. You may not be able to travel physically right now, but our agents share their lifestyles via our blog articles on the Hawaii Life website. And now Hawaii Life is posting more informal agent videos as well – and you can subscribe for updates!

Whatʻs your Lifestyle Dream? I have helped people with an amazing variety of lifestyle “bucket lists” right here on the Big Island. Downsizing to an oceanfront condominium with a “walk to the beach” location and amenities nearby in the resort. A single family home with an acre or two of coffee and room for a menagerie of household and farm animals. Vacant land to build the house of their dreams with sustainable lifestyle goals.

Once you get to this point, you might want to start a conversation with an agent who is experienced in the neighborhoods and lifestyle you envision, as the descriptions of properties listed are not always accurate – or miss key elements important to you.

How Will Hawaiʻi Change in the Post-Pandemic Era?

My crystal ball is no better than yours. Not even in more “business as usual” conditions. But I think there are some currents that may be accelerated into North Shore winter height waves of change.

Mighty wave Hawaii

Hawaiʻi will get serious about reducing its dependence on imported food. At both the state and county levels, there has been a decade-long goal of increasing our self-sufficiency. It seems clear that various initiatives, both small and large, to encourage a renaissance of farming and ranching in the islands will follow.

The economy will need to diversify beyond tourism. Every locality in the world will be concerned with rebuilding their own economies post-pandemic restrictions. This may be a chance for Hawaiʻi to choose to look internally rather than to outside investment for growth.

The values of aloha – kindness and kinship – that saw us through these times will reinvigorate our local communities, and many will look to the roots for direction in the new flourishing of Hawaiʻi. A second Hawaiian cultural renaissance is at hand. And if you wonder how it might be relevant to the economic design for the future of Hawaii and indeed the world, hereʻs an article from American Scientist for a deeper look. 

My “bucket list” items have to do with figuring out how I can best contribute to this exciting future. What can you see yourself contributing? How can we make those dreams come true?

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Susan Lehner

April 22, 2020

Another excellent blog, Beth. After 30 years of living here, I still get massive amounts of new information about this island from you. The article from American Scientist is particularly fascinating. I follow Sam’s writings, but I hadn’t seen this one. Thanks!

Beth Robinson

April 22, 2020

Thanks, Susan. I just ran across that article too and it seems like a good place to start as we let go off assumptions about “going back to normal”.

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